Sceptical yet optimistic is my reaction to the idea of doing a New Year cleansing ritual. I’ve lost a little faith in all things spiritual and metaphysical and feel silly, indulgent and selfish asking the Universe to give me stuff when it seems like civilisation as we know it is on the brink of collapse. Though I think we can all agree there’s been some bad energy zinging around the planet this year. So in between guzzling mulled wine and eating the contents of several selection boxes, taking a little time to reflect and release the bad vibes from 2016 seems like it’s worth a shot.

1. Gather sacred supplies

I ask Wolf Sister aka Tamara, a shamanic healer I met recently what she recommends I do for my ritual. I imagine I’ll have to purchase crystal skulls and forage for wild plants but it turns out I already have most of the stuff I need in my flat to get started.

‘It’s nice to create a little alter using items to symbolise the four elements: earth, air, water and fire and even add some pictures representing things you want or are grateful for,’ says Tamara.

I choose candles for fire; a shell for water; flowers and some peddles from the beach for earth and, well, just use the air for air.

I’m surprised how much I enjoy making my alter. Gathering meaningful items like gifts or postcards from my travels reminds me of good moments, while adding little things from outside, like a pine cone and a conker, makes a nice change from flipping through my phone. Also, it might be a cliche, but lighting a candle and taking a minute to sit quietly feels like a little act of ritual in itself.

‘I like to use white roses as they signify new beginnings but you can add whatever you want to your alter’ says Tamara. ‘I would recommend using dried sage or Palo Santo to cleanse the space before you start your ritual too. I use these sacred plants a lot at home, like if me and my boyfriend are snappy with each other I’ll open all the windows and let the negative energy out and smudge our bedroom with sage to cleanse it’.

I make a mental note to sage my entire family next time I see them.

2. Preparing the body (aka taking a bath)

Should you need another excuse to shut the door on the world and take a long, relaxing bath, here is a brilliant one: a ritual bath cleanses your aura, ridding you of any negative energy you’ve picked by, for example, glancing at the front page of the tabloids.

According to gaia.com, ‘Ritual bathing cleanses you from physical grime and negative spiritual grime, thus purifying both your body and your aura. It is a signal that you are willing to listen to your Higher Self and begin to trust something outside of your rational mind. It indicates that you are open to ask the universe to transform what you believe needs to be changed in yourself.’

I decide to go all out ‘The One Where Chandler Takes A Bath’ so light candles and play relaxing music (though sadly I don’t have a boat). I also use Himalayan bath salts for added detoxification benefits and add a few drops of rose essential oil. Not only does it smell divine, rose is said to help open your heart to connection and love and so is brilliant when dealing with fear or stress – both of which I feel a lot of.

During my bath I concentrate on the idea of cleaning myself of all the negativity of this year and absorbing precious minerals from the earth into my body. It feels bloody brilliant.

3. A little Yin to 2016’s Yang

Next, I get into my pyjamas ready for a calming Yin yoga practice by candlelight (as my Grandma always said, if you’re going to do something, it’s worth doing properly).

Forget a sweaty hardcore yoga workout, Yin is all about gentle release. The postures themselves look easy, but as they’re held for longer than usual the muscles get a chance to relax completely. It’s about surrender and feels like a salve to the relentless pushing, controlling and managing nature of modern life.

I’ve shed tears more times than I’d like to admit during Yin classes but it feels such a relief to let go of all the crap and realise that some things are just out of our control.

4. Getting Grounded

My alter and body thoroughly prepared, I’m ready to invoke the divine! I’m not entirely sure how to do that so turn to The Hoodwitch who, as anyone into their witchy stuff knows, is the real deal.

On her website she recommendations Starhawk’s guided meditation to help ‘settle your energy’ before setting intentions. A visualisation of your ‘roots going down into the Earth, through the layers, into the core, and then drawing that energy back up through your feet again. It moves through each chakra, coming out the top and down around you.’

I feel like I love everyone and wonder if I’m stoned from the sage.

5. Did someone say ‘gratitude’?

Gratitude: that annoyingly smug wellness buzz word of 2016 that actually works. ‘Your brain believes what you tell it. If we keep telling ourselves we feel lost we’ll keep feeling lost and if we keep saying we’ve had a crap year, we don’t make space for the good stuff,’ says Tamara.

There’s A LOT of chat on the internet at this time of year about setting intentions. It seems very important and isn’t to be confused with setting resolutions (so 2015). I need some advice on how to actually do this.

‘Place your hands in your heart and ask it what your intention is for the year ahead and what you need to forgive from this year to create space for it,’ Tamara tells me. ‘It could be your inner critic, an ex or a work situation that’s blocking you from moving forward. Whatever it is, visualise the cord between you and that situation being cut. See yourself being bathed in white light until the connection has been severed and release it with the affirmation of ‘I’m sorry, I forgive you, I love you.’

It all gets a bit emosh at this stage and I’m glad I’m not in public. (Let’s just say there’s a lot to release). Tamara recommends I write down everything I’m feeling then say out loud what I want to manifest next year and what I’m grateful for.

I take some time to make notes about my favourite moments from 2016 (of which there are actually a lot) and some lessons I’ve learned. I think they call this perspective.

6. Get Creative

What I’m loving about creating rituals like this is that you can essentially do whatever you want. I decided to follow The Hoodwitch’s advice to do a 5 card Tarot spread where each card represents a different area of life in the coming year. Home is a massive theme which makes me do some serious reflection about my 2017 plans. This ritual is starting to creep me out (but in a good way).

You could make a good old vision board with images representing what you’d like 2017 to be like, spend time journaling the answers to Gala Darling’s 10 Questions To Ask Yourself To End 2016 Feeling Positive And Powerful, or make a list of everything you want to let go of and burn it.

7. Send out some healing vibes

What annoys me about a lot of the manifestation chat amongst the modern spiritual community (particularly online and in the US) is how much it focusses on gaining material wealth for the individual. I ask Tamara what I should in my ritual to address all the bad vibes in the world at the moment.

‘A big block for a lot of people when they’re trying to manifest positive things in their life is feeling selfish, but when you’re fully charged you have more to give. We’re more powerful that we realise. Unfortunately sometimes shit stuff has to happen before we wake up to that. Now is the time to pull together and realise the healing energy comes from us so use your visualisation to send out that positive energy to the planet.’

I send out some loving vibes to Trump in the hope he’ll have a personality transplant overnight by the sheer power of my intention. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Tamara’s advice to, ‘Ask your angels to have a word with his angels’ – worth a shot at this point, right?

The Verdict:

This stuff works. No joke, I have gone from feeling worried and stressed about what 2017 may bring to lighter and more empowered. Thinking about all the good moments from 2016 has totally shifted my perspective and I feel enormously grateful that I have a life where I can spend all day taking candle-lit baths and faffing about with sage. My manifestation powers may not stretch to world peace by tomorrow, but finding a little inner peace has to be a good place to start.

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